UPDATED 14:30 EST / FEBRUARY 14 2012

Gen 8 Rethinks Storage to Solve Basic Data Center Issues, Says HP

The Gen 8 servers represent a complete rethinking of server and storage hardware design, incorporating some 600 new patents to solve many of the most common and most expensive customer pain-points in data center operations said Mark Potter, SVP and General Manager of Standard Servers and Software.

Speaking at the press conference kicking off HP’s Voyager new product announcement event, the third in a series of such events over the last six months, and webcast live on SiliconAngle.tv, he said that this new generation incorporates unique intelligent management and diagnostic automation throughout the server family and out into the cloud.

This technology is designed to streamline operations, automate routine management tasks, prevent or head-off common problems and speed resolution of problems that do occur, and help customers manage their data centers holistically to improve efficiency and utilization.

For instance, he said, the 3-D Sea of Sensors built into the new servers and their racks allows users for the first time not only to manage the performance, energy use, and heat generation of all the Gen 8 servers and storage arrays in the data center simultaneously from a single central console, it also allows them to see how all that hardware interrelates.

This for instance allows data center managers to see the entire data center on a power, cooling, and physical basis, allowing them to optimize placement of hardware on the data center floor.

On an individual level, it identifies potential hot spots and provides automated help in shifting compute loads. It automatically caps power allocations to each server at the server’s 100% capacity, eliminating over-allocation of power. And it provides this information along with other issues out onto the cloud so that managers can see what their servers are doing anywhere, any time.

The ProActive Architecture also cuts configuration of new servers to a fraction of “normal” time and, he claims, allows servers to start up in three seconds.

Gen 8 eliminates the need for battery backups by replacing SSD with persistent-memory flash. This eliminates the need to replace batteries every four months or to rush to the data center in response to a momentary power outage.

The new SmartSocket is a redesign of the the board sockets in servers that prevents one of the most common user errors that lead to poor server performance and outages, damaging pins when installing CPU upgrades. With SmartSocket it is impossible to install boards incorrectly.

Similarly SmartDrive eliminates the number one cause of data loss, service personnel mistakenly pulling an active drive instead of a malfunctioning one, by clearly identifying any drive that is malfunctioning.

Gen 8 also automates server firmware and software updates allowing the manager to update 1 to 1,000 servers with a single click on the central management console.

The HP ProActive Insight Architecture also monitors servers for early signs of problems, allowing managers to head those off and avoid emergencies. And, said Antonia Neri, VP and General Manager of Technology Services, this is backed by thousands of HP support personnel worldwide and local channel service personnel in the Service ONE program who are already trained in Gen 8 technology. And because they get the same information on customer equipment performance that the customer sees, they can provide proactive rather than reactive service to head off problems.

The result, Neri says, is the elimination of 50% of problems before they happen and 66% faster resolution of those that do, with a 95% first-time-call fix rate. It also provides a single point of contact for each customer for all HP-related issues and inquiries.

And according to Potter, the result is a three-times increase in administrative productivity and the freeing of a great deal of administrative time from routine tasks to focus on larger issues, six times faster performance, and the ability to double data center capacity through optimization both of individual servers and arrays and of the data center overall.

“This Gen 8 announcement answers user pains I have been hearing from clients for a decade at least,” said Richard Fichera, VP and Senior Research Analyst with Forrester Research. “These are huge wins that appear to be unique in the industry and that will be very hard for others to duplicate.”

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